Welcome

We are delighted to present our twenty-sixth programme. It’s our established and popular mixture of old friends and new faces, with nearly 50 sessions featuring bands from across most of the spectrum of jazz.

Peter Vacher described Swanage as the “perfect place for a summer weekend of jazz” (Jazz Journal 2007). We know most of our fans agree: a great many return year after year. If you’ve never been to the Festival, we think you’ll find the combination of top class jazz, effective but relaxed organization and a beautiful seaside setting irresistible. You might stay on to explore the stunning coastal scenery and picturesque villages, as do an increasing number of people.

Swanage gives jazz fans the opportunity to enjoy a wide-ranging programme of music that distinguishes the festival from most others. The stylistic range is New Orleans to contemporary fusions, with lots of leading names and new faces. There are four stroller venues close to the seafront in the centre of town, and several free venues, so you can stroll from the large marquees to the smaller venues and take in everything from New Orleans revivalism and Dixieland to post-bop and contemporary sounds, by way of swing and mainstream. See the day-by-day programme for details.
Leading the modern selection this year are Clark Tracey’s Stan Tracey Dynasty Band, playing his dad’s music written for the Octet, and Jean Toussaint’s “Roots and Herbs”, a brilliant reworking of some of the best of Art Blakey’s recordings. Alan Barnes brings back his Reed Breed, with a five-reed front line, which was a massive hit at last year’s festival. Among other well-known names are Gilad Atzmon’s Orient House Ensemble, Karen Sharp and Robert Fowler’s quintet paying tribute to Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Sarah Gillespie’s Quintet, Chris Biscoe’s Profiles of Mingus, Larry Bartley and Just Us, Christian Garrick’s Quartet, Georgia Mancio’s Quartet, Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio, Phil Robson’s Organ Trio, Omar Puente’s Quartet and Tom Cawley’s Curios. We also feature several younger bandleaders making their first appearance at the festival; saxophonist Rachael Cohen, trumpeter Henry Armburg Jennings and drummer JJ Wheeler.

The “classic jazz” list is led as always by Keith Nichols Blue Devils, surely the best band playing the music of the early big bands of the late twenties and thirties. Amy Roberts and Richard Exall lead the Magnificent Seven, an exciting band playing everything from traditional favourities to bebop with an ebullient swing. Martin Litton leads his recreation of Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers.

Among the New Orleans bands we have Richard Bennett’s Band, John Maddocks’ Jazzmen, the Pedigree Jazz Band, the Sussex Jazz Kings and several other top names from the British festival and club circuits. Laurie Chescoe’s Reunion Band leads the Dixieland contribution, with a special guest, the amazing Pauline Pearce. The international Hot Jazz Alliance makes its first appearance, an enthusiastic and brilliant group of young Australian and American musicians. Jam sessions will include Keith Nichols, Spats Langham, Ben Holder and Richard Exall.

The stroller ticket covers everything except the steam train/jazz dance on Friday afternoon. The music runs from 7 to 11pm on Friday, 11am to 11pm on Saturday and 10am to 11pm on Sunday. There’s a brass band parade on Saturday morning, a church service on Sunday and free gigs in pubs and open-air venues on Saturday and Sunday.

We urge you to book both tickets and accommodation as early as you can. Swanage Railway will be running late trains over the weekend to stations to Corfe Castle, with the last train scheduled for 10.45pm.
All of our venues are accessible to wheelchairs. We are very definitely a child-friendly event – we admit children under sixteen free with an adult ticket holder, and we offer a discount of 50% for student bookings. We are also happy to admit well-behaved dogs (except in the Methodist Church) provided they are under close control.